Posts Tagged With: Outdoor Activities

Be the wolf in Cuesta Blanca…

Let yourselves go and get rid of all travel guides.  Don’t follow the herd, shave that wool and be a wolf.  Look for the sensation of doing something different, get your bag packed and jump on the bus and ask a ‘boleto’ for Cuesta Blanca, a town located in the department of Punilla in the province of Córdoba.   A 50km ride from Córdoba capital following the ‘Camimo de las Altas Cumbres’ takes us to this small community parted in half by the San Antonio River.

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It’s this stream that makes this place so special by providing smaller natural pools with crystalline water and clean glittering pink sand beaches both perfect for relaxing the mind and body as these waters cure,… some local told us.

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Cuesta Blanca has the privilege to find itself enclosed in a mountain forest with its many autochthonous trees, grasses and native vines with beautiful shapes and colourful leaves and flowers.  The native fauna gives us 180 varieties of wild birds, iguanas, rainbow trout, weasel, fox, otter and many others.  The wonderful hike along the riverside, from our empty camping site to one of the further beaches, Playa de los Hippies, is a reason on itself to visit this beautiful place.

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After some days you will be revitalized and might be ready for a whole lot more of traveling but maybe never again able to let the wool overgrow the wolf inside you! 😉

 

Our recommendations:

– Take a good book and enjoy the out of this world feeling

– Binoculars are a must as many smaller beautifull coloured birds fly by and are dificult to see with bare eyes

Eco-camping is situated a bit further from the center just next to the river, offers bbq,  shared showers, has a small shop to buy drinks and delights their visitors with nightly frog and bird chants.

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Categories: Argentina | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Embalse de Calamuchita, on the way to Córdoba

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Travellers warned us that, if going more eastwards, hitchhiking will get more difficult.  So we try from Mendoza to Córdoba and get as far as San Luis.  A rather dark city where “hotels” charge you by the hour, taking for grant the fact that people here are looking for some kincky sex with one of the many prostitutes we have seen along the highway.  But as Giorgia doesn’t have me on her pay check, that’s not our case so we decide to spend the night on the ground in the bus terminal together with some other travellers.

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Next day we make a big step towards Córdoba, in the car of a nice couple, and call it the day as we reach Embalse de Calamuchita, a small town at the side of the lake.  Long recognized as one of Córdoba Province’s main holiday destinations, and where the urban tribe have holiday homes, the shamrock green Calamuchita Valley originates under Córdoba city at the town of Alta Gracia –see future posts- and goes for over 100km, between the rising and falling Sierra Chica to the east and the vertical Sierra de Comechingones to the west.  The wide-ranging foliage that covers the valley flanks makes available a impeccable environment for hundreds of species of birds and other fauna.

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Two large and uncontaminated reservoirs, Embalse Los Molinos in the north and Embalse Rio Tercero in the south, both dammed in the first half of the twentieth century for water provisions, energy and recreational fishing, contributes to the valley alternative name: Valle Azul de los Grandes Lagos meaning ‘Blue Valley of the Big Lakes’.  The two, after a long ride, are friendly enough to bring us till a nice camping ground just at the shore of the lake and our tent… at 2meter from the water.

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This stunning place almost secreted in surroundings of incredible natural beauty is rising on our appreciation-scale as we walk the path that follows the contours of the lake.  Vegetables, wine and half a chicken get paid at the local shop to prepare an ‘asadero’.  This is how good it can get: daydreaming with a glass of wine at the shore of what seems to be our lake… our secret place in the world, starring at the vast water surface that sparkles like a thousand diamonds under the afternoon sun.  Later on the day, with the wood red glowing awaiting some food to roast, the last wind breeze departs the valley leaving behind an absolutely flat surface.  The spectacle begins just after we filled the grill with our grocery shopping.  A stunning sunset reflects on the mirror that the lake has become.   Colours are fading into others as seconds tick away and the sun falls down.  The chicken gets turned as the sun hits the horizon at the other side of the lake.  The blue tints orange and orange turns into red a red sky while pink turns into light brown and light brown into crunchy dark brown on our grill.  By the time the sun hides her very upper bit, the violet and red sky fills with the unmistakable aroma of dinnertime.  We eat, we drink, we laugh, we love and we sleep… because tomorrow we have a long day towards Córdoba.

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Embalse is quite and honest, does not pretend to be what it isn’t and therefore becomes one of our better memories of a whole year of traveling.

Recommendations:

  • Don’t get fooled by this quite settlement… with about 8000 hotel beds, tourism is the principal economic activity of this  city (at the time of Argentinian holidays). But out of the hysteric-summer-mass-tourism-season, the camping ground gets quite, costs 50 Pesos Argentino each and has the basics (toilet, showers, electricity,…) still running.
  • Multiple encounters for various nautical competitions as well as rally, MTB, athletics, etc places Embalse as one of the most sportive spots of Córdoba. In 2012 officially named ‘Capital of Nautical Sports of Córdoba’
  • One of the yearly events with the highest convocation of the whole province is held from the 18th till 22nd of September. About 100.000 persons (mostly aged between 15 and 30) come for an unforgettable 5 days of national and international recognized musicians with their bands.  Four massive tents are transformed into mega-disco and host more than 30DJ’s equally well-known. For more info about activities click here.
  • On the way to Córdoba Capital, we manage to hitch-hike till a town named: Villa General Belgrano. It’s a Tirol-ish resort with for the most part Germanic residents.  Therefore, its traditional festivals, its art, folklore and its particular architecture style amaze visitors.  Here October is a substitute for noble and abundant beer.  Thousands of people participate on a pilgrimage to this place each year to take part in one of the supreme longed-for happening in Villa General Belgrano: the National Beer Festival!!! Villa General Belgrano also holds two more national festivals: The Alpine Chocolate Festival (July) and the Fiesta Nacional De La Masa Vienesa (April).
Categories: Argentina | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uspallata, at the foot of Mount Aconcagua

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In a cold desert climate where summers have pleasant days and cool nights, and winters are chilly to biting cold, we find Uspallata, a humble little crossroads town on the way to the Chilean border.  A perfect base to do some exploring in the area and at the same time a town with back country character is our first and correct impression as we step off the bus after a two and a half hours ride from Mendoza.

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A very friendly lady at the information point shows us the cheapest overnighting possibilities and camping grounds.  We end up at Cabañas Ranquil Luncay and made the right choise.  A fine mix of bungalows, camping sites, football field, grills for client use and the beautiful surroundings make our heartbeat going faster.  We set up our tent and go for a walk in the town that has maximum ten streets of which all of them have view on the mighty Andes.  The people are openhearted and warmly welcoming us in every shop.  They make time to explain, to ask and have time to be interested in the person they have in front of them.  A being-home feeling starts to get under our skin and just some streets later, when a nice man invites us tasting different Argentinean wines outside his small grocery shop around an old wine barrel, our body get stuffed with both good Uspallata vibrations and the finest wines of the area.

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We buy a wine, half a chicken and vegetables to honour the grill just outside the tent.  As we come back at the campground a young Argentinean couple has put their tent next to ours and will make fire up the grill next to us.  We get in contact, have a nice chat and together we get to the conclusion that we will travel the same direction towards the border.  They invite us in their car and together early in the morning, with our clothes still smelling at the wood-fire-grill, we leave this small town behind us to adventure us in some of the most dramatic scenery in the region: the backdrop of the highest peak out in the Andes.  First stop is Puente Del Inca, where the sedimentation of thermal springs forming a big bridge over the Vacas River is something interesting to see but where the sedimentation on everyday items as shoes, cans, backpacks and bottles are the real mouth opener here.

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The story is that if you would leave any object a month in these waters they would get petrified by the minerals in the water.  Thousands of different objects covered by a yellow ocher stone layer are for sale and each one of them more incredulous.  After that we make a stop at Cerro Aconcagua where we make a beautiful walk along minor lakes reflecting the white sharp shaped notoriety of the Andes to a viewpoint on mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain on the American continent.  It is where we finally get rewarded, after many hikes in the barren high Andes, by the flight of two condors as they glide through the sky stretching their wings till a width of 3,2m.  Another dream that came true and the line “eyewitness the free flight of a wild condor” get crossed on my ‘100 things to see in nature before I die’-list.

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Another few kilometers later we leave the main road and start to ascent a steep dust road trail up into the mountains.  The old car that brought us so far is climbing on its last effort to get till the Cristo Redentor de los Andes statue at 4000MASL on the very border of Argentina and Chile.  After hugging goodbye, the two youngsters with car leave us in front of the Cristo redentor tunnel which is the border with Chile.

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It takes us a while but finally we succeed to hitch-hike a car that will drive us totally till Santiago de Chile, the capital of the sixteenth country of our journey.

Our recommendations:

  • At Cabañas Ranquil Luncay we find a camping ground just 300m out of the center. Each tent has its BBQ and stunning view on the Andes as we unzip the tent door.  We paid 100 for the night
  • Cerro Tunduqueral with remarkable petroglyphs at just 7,8km
  • Bosque de Darwin at Paramillos de Uspallata at 24km with its more than 50 petrified araucarias from the Tertiary age.
  • At some streets from the towncenter you find the Bódevas de barro from the late XVIII
  • Nearby (63km) we find Los Penitentes where sporters in summer will find lots of posibilities for hiking on high altitiude and in winter a cheap ski and snowboard destination.
  • Cerro Aconcagua, a playground for the skilled andinists and alpinists but a true 7000MASL defiance for new and not experienced adventurer
  • Thermal waters and stalactites are brought to another dimensión at Puente del Inca on a 50min drive from Uspallata
  • Find yourself gasping for breath at one of the highest borders of the world while admiring the huge statue of Christ the Redeemer of the Andes at 4000MASL.
Categories: Argentina | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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